'And finally, not everyone’s being doing topical. In fact, here’s the rather lovely 6 Oxgangs Avenue devoted to the history of the development of the area, this week highlighting how the block of flats came into being. Could have been prompted by Who do you think you are? Or just a timely reminder that not everything worth blogging about is in the here and now.'

Kate Higgins, Scottish Roundup 26/08/2012

Friday, 22 November 2013

St John's Church-For Whom The Bell Tolls, It Tolls For Thee-An Update and a Special Church Service, 24 November, 2013

On the last day of December, 2013, the St John's Church, Oxgangs church bell may ring out one more time before becoming silent.

Last Sunday on a beautiful sun-kissed, mid-November morning I stopped by, to hear the bell ring out for perhaps the very last time for me. 

It was a still and frosty morn. 

I walked the 360 degrees around the church and the old church hall and then entered the Narthex or vestibule inside St John's and unobserved, watched an elderly church warden making ready for the church service. 

The gentleman was tall and erect as an old soldier and attired in a jerkin and cloth cap. 

He walked up and down the side aisle; at one stage he carried a kettle; and then some plates and also some other objects. 

Previously he had laid out the Order of Service at the front door of the church.

And all the while as he performed his duties he sang to himself.

He was oblivious to me standing there. And whilst he had a good voice it could be better described as a happy voice. 

His happiness and joy could be heard in his voice.

He was at one with himself. 

It was clear these were not really duties for him, He was so happy in making a contribution. 

I recalled the Latin phrase-ora et labora-to work is to pray. 

It turned out that he was the church bell-ringer too-who says men can't multi-task! 

The church bell rang out five minutes before the service commenced-ringing out, calling the parishioners to worship. 

The elderly gentleman then emerged from the door of the bell tower and glided up the path to enter the church by a side door to join the congregation.

The congregation was very small and the average age must have been around seventy. 

There was a feature on BBC Radio 4 the other morning saying Christianity in the United Kingdom may be dead in a generation. My visit brought this home.

Shortly before the service began I spoke  to a lovely and very pleasant older lady at the top of the steps on Oxgangs Road North

I mentioned that as I was in Edinburgh I was keen to hear the sound of the St John's Church bell ring out one last time and to record it for posterity. 

We exchanged some memories of times past. 

She has attended St John's for many decades since she first lived at Redford at the army houses back in the 1950s. She pointed out to me another parishioner who had attended the church each Sunday since St John's first opened in 1957, the year after I was born.

I spoke of happy memories of the annual summer fetes and the marvellous contribution made to the Oxgangs community by the Orr family-the Reverend Jack Orr and his wife who had taught at Hunters Tryst School, also sadly no more. 

The lady spoke to me about her sadness about the church closing on Auld Year's night and the challenges of joining up with Colinton Mains Church and how very good the incumbent minister, the Rev Iain Goring has been. 

She became quite emotional and I held her hand.

On a note of serendipity, she told me that next week, the Rev Orr's daughter, the Rev Dr Kathy Galloway, will be a guest preacher at a special church service (Sunday 24 November, 2013 at 11.00 a.m.) to celebrate the church's existence in Oxgangs, to be followed by a lunch in the church hall. 

Whether one is religious or not it's perhaps something to consider for anyone interested. Special occasions should always be acknowledged and marked.

John Donne has been mentioned by me before, particularly on a blog about the end of our school days at Hunters Tryst. And once again the sound of a church bell ringing out signifies something important; for when Donne spoke of 'For Whom The Bell Tolls, It Tolls For Thee', it does indeed because when something dies, we all die a little; I guess what Donne was really saying was that whatever affects one, affects us all....

Sunday, 3 November 2013

RLS Day 13 November-A few of the highlights!

#RLSDay 2013
Start/End Date(s)
13 November 2013


Robert Louis Stevenson Day
13 November 2013
Robert Louis Stevenson Day (RLSDay) is ready to be roundly celebrated once more - 13th November, his birthday. 
Pre-RLSDay Delights
The marvellous Filmhouse will be screening adaptations of Stevenson's work in the days leading up to the event. Get into the spirit by going to see Muppet Treasure Island or Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde.

And if you have missed it, after more than a century, Edinburgh finally has a statue of one of our city's favourite sons himself, thanks to the generous Colinton community.

A statue of the young RLS and his dog has just been unveiled by Ian Rankin, and it is on display outside Colinton Parish Church. Why not head over and give the wee dog a stroke yourself before its head shines as bright as Hume's toe?

All Day from 10.00
Free copies of Stevenson's Short Stories 
In partnership with the Association of Scottish Literary Studies and the RLS Club, you can pick up a copy of Strange Tales - Thrawn Janet, The Tale of Tod Lapraik and The Bottle Imp - for free at Edinburgh city libraries, as long as stock lasts.

All Day from 10.00
Tusitala, Teller of Tales Scottish Storytelling Centre
A master and pioneer of the short story form and a far finer poet then he ever claimed to be. To celebrate his diverse talents, the RLS Club are staging an all-day free reading of Stevenson's work at the Scottish Storytelling Centre. Drop by and help celebrate Tusitala, Teller of Tales

10.30 - From Oxgangs to Swanston with RLS
Explore RLS's South Edinburgh haunts with Carol Marr. The guided walk From Oxgangs to Swanston with RLS begins at Oxgangs Library and ends at Swanston Golf Club for tea and scones.

11.00 - Tusitala's Colinton
RLS's childhood is closely linked to Colinton where his Grandfather was the Minister. Hear readings from A Child's Garden of Verses and meet Alan Beattie Herriot, the sculptor of a new statute of RLS as a boy. Discover Tusitala's Colinton and visit the Manse garden where RLS played.  

11.00 - Scenes (and Songs) From a Life 
Starting outside the Writers' Museum, Allan Foster, author of The Literary Traveller in Edinburgh, will tour the haunts of the young RLS before a sing-song and refreshments at Captain's Bar with Andy Chung.

11.50 - New Town, Old Tales
Join Colin Brown of Rebus Tours as he explores the New Town, Old Tales, with reference to RLS and other writers. Starting from Charlotte Square, Colin will explore the light and the dark sides of the city with two personalities, just like Jekyll and Hyde.

13.00 - Follow in the Footsteps of RLS

Get  your wellies on and join Scottish Natural Heritage for a walk from Stevenson's summer home in Swanston to the Hermitage of Braid. Follow in the Footsteps of RLS and enjoy the scenery, fresh air and listen to his well-written words.

14.00, 15.00 & 16.00
The Memories of an Edinburgh Boy
RLS loved Edinburgh, city of his birth and an important source of inspiration for him. Hear The Memories of an Edinburgh Boy and find out what the city meant to him through his own memoirs and A Child's Garden of Verses at The Writers Museum. 

19.00 - An Evening with RLS
... and Louise Welsh & James Naughtie

And why not catch Louise Welsh and James Naughtie discussing their lifelong fascination for the man, his writing and his travels? Attend the #RLSDay finale, An Evening with Robert Louis Stevenson, an excellent event brought to you by Edinburgh Napier University’s Centre for Literature and Writing (CLAW), in partnership with the Edinburgh UNESCO City of Literature Trust.     

Getting to Know Stevenson
Robert Louis Stevenson was born in Edinburgh in 1850. And though he lived most of his adult life elsewhere, and died in Samoa in 1894, he remains one of Edinburgh’s favourite sons. A law graduate of the University of Edinburgh, he chose not to follow his famous lighthouse engineer father into the trade.
He became instead a man of letters – of essays, novels, poetry, stories – his most famous work, Treasure Island, has never been out of print. As a letter writer, a practical joker, a moustache wearer, a whisky man, his words and his life continue to inspire and excite folk today, in Edinburgh and far beyond.
Become an expert on Robert Louis Stevenson at:
No Ticket Required

Friday, 1 November 2013

Comment From Iain Hoffmann re: Andy Williams and St Marks Church

Regarding Eric Mullen's query about Andy Williams visit to St Mark's Church I can confirm that he is indeed right and that his memory hasn't let him down! 

After doing some detective work liaising with Mark Duffy, he told me that his dad, Jim Duffy, Colinton, Edinburgh confirmed that St Mark's School sang with Andy Williams at St Mark's Church in 1981. This was beamed onto the Johnny Cash Christmas in Scotland Show.